News story

Landmark for Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation (CEOI)

The CEOI has reached its 10th anniversary, during which time it has funded more than 50 new technologies.

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Artist's impression of CYGNSS satellite in obit. Credit: NASA.

The innovations have included instruments to measure air quality, monitor forests and climate change, and to increase our understanding of the polar regions, oceans and winds.

The CEOI was set up in April 2007 and is funded by the UK Space Agency to support UK industry and universities to develop new technologies for space and to maintain its position as a world-leader in Earth Observation satellite technology.

The CEOI has awarded £14.2m in Earth Observation grants, putting Earth Observation at the heart of the Agency’s long-term strategy to stimulate future innovation and growth for the UK.

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The Laser Heterodyne Radiometer, seen here during a measurement campaign for atmospheric greenhouse gases at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, is a new instrument concept to rapidly produce accurate, high sensitivity vertical profiles of atmospheric trace gases.

Previous grant winners have achieved remarkable success by developing technology and positioning UK industry to win more than £150 million in external European contracts over the 10 year period, giving an excellent return on government investment.

One grant, to the small satellite company Surrey Satellites Technologies Ltd (SSTL), has resulted in an instrument able to monitor the surface winds over the world’s oceans, by measuring the very weak reflections from navigation satellites. This instrument is now flying on CYGNSS, a constellation of 8 NASA satellites which are providing data about wind speeds at the centre of hurricanes.

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The CEOI programme has also developed an active, well-informed and cohesive cooperating community, through a programme of workshops and conferences, resulting in over 185 scientific papers, technical reports and conference presentations. Applications for 4 patents have resulted from CEOI projects.

The tenth CEOI call issued earlier in 2017 resulted in a huge response, with teams being awarded a total of more than £2.4 million in grants. The projects in the new portfolio will include development of innovative technologies for the next generation of weather satellites, new developments of deployable and smart optics and advances in detectors for infra-red instruments. Airborne demonstration projects will further develop novel approaches to maritime surveillance and for monitoring greenhouse gases.

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The CompAQS spectrometer is under development at the Space Research Centre at University of Leicester and is a compact instrument to measure air quality for space. The optical grating can be seen to the right of the picture, which is used to split sunlight reflected from the Earth into the different spectral colours, from which the amount of nitrogen dioxide can be measured.

The CEOI is a consortium of world-class academia and industry experts, led by Airbus together with QinetiQ, STFC RAL Space and University of Leicester. With funding from the UK Space Agency, the Centre provides grants won competitively by teams bidding for EO technology development funding.

Published 21 April 2017
Last updated 21 April 2017 + full page history
  1. Images updated.
  2. First published.